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Paralyzed former officer races across U.S.

June 21, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Kristina Ripatti-Pearce's story has been inspirational.Four years ago, the former Los Angeles Police Department officer was shot after responding to a robbery in progress.

On Monday, she and her team crossed the finish line in Annapolis, Md. after riding 3,000 miles across the country.

"We had an amazing team, amazing crew and riders," said an emotional Ripatti-Pearce, as she shed tears at the finish line. "I'm just really proud of us, how we were able to pull together."

It has been quite a ride for the 37-year-old mother of two.

Ripatti-Pearce's spinal cord injuries may have paralyzed her, but she moved on.

She took up hand cycling and recently started training for Race Across America, a grueling course that takes riders across 14 states on a course 30 percent longer than the Tour de France.

On June 12, her team left Oceanside and has been cycling as much as 500 miles per day.

It wasn't easy. Ripatti-Pearce says the team experienced equipment failures and broken brakes.

With her husband, Tim, by her side, Ripatti-Pearce and her team used their journey to raise money for Operation Progress, an LAPD-sponsored charity that provides scholarships to students in gang infested communities.

They accomplished their goal, and much more.

"We all pulled through and just stuck with it," she said. "And that's the message that we're trying to send."

Operation Progress has already helped some 35 local high-schoolers to college. After this cross country race, the nonprofit should have the funds to help several more at risk students.


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